came across this interview with norman lock–who has a new book out called THE KING OF SWEDEN (ravenna press).
here’s lock on the simultaneously marginalized yet therefore critical status of small presses [which reminded me of this stephen-paul martin interview where is made the case that small presses need to be an alternative network to, and not simply a minor league version of, mainstream publishing].
interviewed by john olson in 2007 for CRANKY magazine:
Norman Lock: Many there were who deplored the condition of the American theatrical establishment in the 1960s for its hostility to originality of structure, voice, and language. Some simply went on deploring it while others created Off-Broadway and an authentic regional theater. In the ’70s, Off-Broadway was becoming nearly as ossified as the Broadway it had replaced. The result was an Off-Off-Broadway and studio theaters that welcomed the exceptional.
Liberality of mind and spirit is succeeded always by the reactionary, which yields, in turn, to an alternative. There is nothing surprising in this. I am happy that there are alternative presses, such as FC2, Ravenna Press, Triple Press, and Calamari Press, to seriously entertain the fiction that I wish to make, as well as independent magazines to publish our stories. When I think of Joyce and Beckett and Michaux, I am cheered and glad to be in their company — not that I have their talent, but I share their banishment to the margin… What constitutes a “sufficiency”? That very much depends on the quality of readers. A handmade book that Deron Bauman made for me in 2000 during his short-lived elimae books venture was read by less than 50 people, but among them were Gordon Lish, Diane Williams, Brian Evenson, Dawn Raffel, Faruk Ulay, Cooper Renner, Kathryn Rantala, and Guy Davenport. They form, for me, a sufficiency of readers.
To acknowledge such a limitation is to accept a reduced role for the writer. I do not believe that what I write can change the world or the people in it. I don’t believe that anything written by a contemporary literary artist has that power over a mass audience. There are some who believe they can restructure consciousness using language and narratives that defy convention. But their visionary writing will scarcely be read by the people most in need of a transformed consciousness. The only work that has power to engage a mass audience is sentimental (which is a lie) or pornographic (which is also a lie, though perhaps a more entertaining one). We can rue this. We can set down the causes to mainstream publishing or to a degeneration in popular taste and appreciation that have little to do with literacy. But we can and should seek out our own margin and make our literature there.
and on print versus digital publishing:
NL: This idea of art as a “making,” as a thing made—it speaks immediately to my disinclination toward online publication. I have a prejudice against it, which may be common for those of my generation; I do not trust it—do not entirely trust technology, for the obvious reasons. Electricity is evanescent; paper and ink give to the thing made permanence, which is, I am aware, illusory. And yet, perhaps not: We have old books, incunabula, writing set down on manuscripts, paper, parchment, stone tablets. It survives because of its autonomous life; it is not attached to an exterior life-support system, whose plug can be pulled. (I suspect one day it will.)
link to the whole interview available at lorman lock’s (new) website here.